ALBUM TITLE: Così Fan Tutte
WORKS: Così Fan Tutte
PERFORMER: Malin Hartelius, Luca Pisaroni, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Martin Mitterrutzner, Martina Janková, Gerald Finley; Vienna Philharmonic/Christoph Eschenbach; dir. Sven-Eric Bechtolf (Salzburg, 2013)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 2072748; Blu-ray: 2072744
Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s production is a broadly traditional affair with a sting in its tail. Marianne Glittenberg’s costumes are 18th-century, while her husband Rolf’s sets first show us a verdant hot-house with a tiny bathing pool wherein the two sisters disport themselves, semi-naked, in the opening scene. Act II moves us inside their house, where the lush botanical specimens are still clearly visible on the other side of the glass. Things turn much sourer at the close. Gerald Finley’s Don Alfonso accidentally swallows poison during the final ensemble; Czech soprano Martina Janková’s Despina claims her assistant’s fee from his corpse. This certainly darkens an already gloomy final scene – at this point the returning fiancés are visibly furious.
Gerald Finley plays Don Alfonso as an earnest but good-humoured scientist intent upon establishing his proofs of human nature, whatever the cost, and singing with vigour and purpose. The buddy team of Ferrando and Guglielmo is finely delineated by Austrian tenor Martin Mitterrutzner and Italian baritone Luca Pisaroni respectively, the former’s sweet tone offsetting the latter’s greater vocal aggression – he launches his ‘Donne mie’ upon Janková’s earthily demotic Despina with particular venom; she, meanwhile, is as cynical and as much of a plotter as Alfonso himself. The two sisters could, from a visual point of view, be just that, the fresh, fragrant tone of the Swedish soprano Malin Hartelius’s Fiordiligi forming a neat contrast with the greater tonal warmth and personality of Swiss mezzo Marie-Claude Chappuis’s Dorabella.
With the Vienna Philharmonic in the pit, there’s no consistent attempt at period-style. There’s a small amount of vocal decoration, and a fortepiano (played by Enrico Maria Cacciari) used for the recitatives, while the neat and characterful orchestral playing maintains light textures and Christoph Eschenbach keeps things nicely on the move. George Hall